Sleeping With Julia Roberts

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She smelled like plastic fruit and Pablo
Neruda was her favorite poet. Her thoughts,
stoked with speed and Nietzsche
and wired by Paramount, brought out
the secret patterns of the bedroom
wallpaper: suddering valences of time,
blue daisies, a frozen horse against which
I spread my legs, and read myself

my rights. She was crazy about pasta salad.
She never called me Ace, she never lied.
It sounded like bourgeois when she sneezed
and each time she came into a room
where I was, she’d click her tongue
and snap, you’re not supposed to be
in this picture, boy
, but it was me who bought
the custom-made dental pick she wore

around her neck on a silver chain,
it was me who tilted back that giant head
and worked the plaque until she screamed,
engraved messages for the archaeologists
below the gumline. Once it was her birthday,
and she swallowed the room. It slipped into her mouth

backward, like a car reeled into a garage,
and I realized then that love had evolved,
and no longer should I be concerned
with God, who tossed his dice across
her stomach, who bet her museum-quality
bones against her own.

On bad nights I’d find her, adding
freakish columns of numbers on the bathroom tile,
shivering, barefoot, shit-faced on mescal,
her moon in Virgo, her father’s rusty, six-hole
leather punch a souvenir bulge in the front
pocket of her unzipped purple jeans. Alice,
I’d say (she made me call her Alice),
Alice, come back to bed, the worst is over
now. I can already feel

your prescription-dry tongue popping
like a match down my spine.
This always
worked. I prayed our babies would have
her beautiful round head, the flotsam eyes,
her webbed tongue coiled in each drawbridge
mouth, and on each tongue her god-awful name.
I was in love with her when she was played
by time. No one else can say the same.

©2002 Josh Bell and Nerve.com


As I Lay Sleeping

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